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Thu, Feb 24, 2000 - Page 3 News List

Calls for impartial justice are mounting over Liu raid

By Irene Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

The uproar sparked by Monday's search of former Legislative Yuan Speaker Liu Sung-pan's (劉松藩) residence showed no signs of flagging yesterday.

Taichung District Court Judge Chuang Shen-yuan (莊深淵) led investigators on the search of Liu's Taipei residence in connection with a multi-billion dollar loan scandal to which Liu has been linked.

It is the timing of the raid that has aroused the harshest criticism, coming as it did just 26 days before the presidential election -- and given Liu's recent switch from the KMT to independent presidential candidate James Soong's (宋楚瑜) camp.

However, a number of people have also come out in support of Chuang -- who went on leave starting Tuesday -- and many have sent wreaths of flowers to his court office.

Judges of the Taichung District Court also issued a public statement backing Chuang yesterday, asking society not to destroy the independence of Taiwan's judiciary, which is still in its infancy.

Judge Chiang Te-chien (江德千) said it is not timing, but evidence that a judge has to evaluate during the trial process.

"If any judge has avoided moving ahead with a case because of timing considerations, that is an example of a decision influenced by politics," Chiang said.

"Many people have challenged the timing of Chuang's order, only 26 days before the election. What exactly is good timing? Is it a month ahead of the election or after that?" Chiang asked.

Liu has been linked to the case involving Tseng Cheng-jen (曾正仁), president of the Kuan San Group (廣三集團) and chairman of the board of directors of the Taichung Business Bank (台中企銀). Tseng is suspected of having used his position at the bank in 1998 to funnel loans of over NT$700 million to nearly 100 dummy accounts. Suspicions have been aroused that Liu was involved because he held the chairman's post before Tseng.

Chuang has summoned Liu and KMT legislator Chang Wen-i (張文儀) to testify in a court hearing on March 1.

With the election in a dead heat, accusations are rampant that the KMT is trying to manipulate the judiciary against the other candidates.

But Sue Wang (王時思), executive-general of the Judicial Reform Foundation, said it is no longer possible for the ruling power to intervene in judicial decisions.

However, she said, the party is still able to influence the outcome of certain cases: "Technically, the party isn't able to directly affect judges' decisions. But what's worrying is that it could still hamper a just result by blocking the possibility of evidence being disclosed."

"But I think there is one thing the judges have to think about: When the courts have acted so slowly in handling criminal charges against over 200 lawmakers, and when prosecutors have delayed so long in investigating a questionable multi-million dollar loan made by Vice President Lien Chan (連戰), how could you expect us to have faith in you?" Wang asked.

Meanwhile, a former manager of the bank was found dead after a fall from his Taichung apartment yesterday. His death is being investigated for any link to the Tseng case.

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